Kadena Silver Flag site officially stands down, moves to Guam

by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 554th RED HORSE Squadron's Detachment 1 officially stood down the Kadena Silver Flag site during a ceremony Feb. 21.

The site, which was established on Okinawa in the late 1980s, signifies the end of an era and the beginning of another underneath the Pacific Air Forces regional training center at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam.

Maj. Kevin Mares, Detachment 1 commander, said the training center will be made up of the 554th RED HORSE Squadron as well as a security forces squadron and Silver Flag all part of the 36th Contingency Response Group - a component that has been constrained by the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.

"Using all those capabilities together will provide the PACAF Theater something it's never had before, and it can also increase the capability of the 36th Contingency Response Group," Mares said. "Because of the Status of Forces Agreement that we have with the Japanese, we are not authorized to train other nations in Japan. By moving to Anderson AFB in Guam, those restrictions don't apply, so ... it opens the door to allow partner events such as Cope North, where we can now involve our engineers instead of just our CRG and our fliers."

One of the biggest benefits, Mares said, comes from the higher level of training that will become available at the new station.

"I think it's great," Mares added. "We're moving out to a location that provides more realism in the training. There's a 5,000-foot runway that will allow our airfield damage repair training scenarios to be more realistic, compared to what we have here - a 1,200-foot runway, which (causes us to) simulate a lot of things. We'll be able to bring in partner nations. We've had interest from (the Republic of) Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and a few others in bringing out engineers to learn how we operate because when we deploy for either wartime or (humanitarian) missions, we're going to working with our partner nations. Knowing what each other brings to the fight is always a good thing."

Though the move will potentially bolster training and operational capabilities, one Detachment 1 senior NCO said he hosts a personal attachment to the Kadena site.

"I have mixed feelings just because this was my first Silver Flag site as a young Airman that I attended training in," said Master Sgt. Octavius Smalls, Detachment 1 infrastructure superintendent. "But as I progress and actually see the bigger picture of the Air Force and the needs of the civil engineer and force support Airmen, that it's actually an outstanding thing because it's going to broaden the horizon and footprint that Detachment 1 will be able to provide."

The last remaining members of the RED HORSE detachment on Kadena are slated to move to Guam or another unit on Kadena by March 15. The unit is slated to reach initial operation capability by Oct. 1, 2014, when it will have enough equipment and personnel to begin the first official Silver Flag class in the new station.

Full operational capability isn't projected until the end of Fiscal Year 2016.

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